Monday, February 23, 2009

I wrote this blog for a homeschooling site I am on, and decided to post it here, too. Thanks to Deb who encouraged me to do so! This was in response to a question about a "typical" day for homeschoolers, and she is SO right that there is no one "right way" to homeschool. I know I tease people about being overly organized, but I hope they know that I truly believe we all need to do what works best for our families. Just because I am Organizationally Challenged does not mean I couldn't use a little more of it in my life. And just because someone else is super-organized doesn't mean they can't "loosen up" a little sometimes.

Of course we Lifeschoolers truly have few "typical" days, but we do have a rhythm to our lives with which we are very comfortable. Let me give an example. Last week, K and I had two very different days during which we had very different activities, but phenomenal learning still took place........

One day, K got up around 9, and was gung-ho about the books. She wanted to "do school". We sat at our old farm table in the "school room" (one end of our den, which SO does not look like a school room!) for almost 3 hours. She did math worksheets, language arts pages, read several stories from a reader I picked up at a thrift store, did two chapters in a Science book... I can't even remember everything she did. But she was happy and chatty and asking questions.... It was a good day......

The very next day, she got up around 9 again, and didn't want anything to do with any of it. She was a grumpy girl and said I "made" her sit too long the day before, and that we are Lifeschoolers and I knew that we "didn't have to sit and fill out pages to be learning"............ I had to leave the room for a minute to wipe the big grin off my face after that statement! So (after I had sufficiently recovered) I told her that we didn't have to open a book if she didn't want to. Now I may hear a collective gasp at this point, but let me finish!

That day, she read 2 chapters from one of her books (those of you who know me know how she has struggled with reading, so that is a HUGE victory for us!!), then she spent at least an hour with her paints and crayons and colored pencils. When she was finished, she showed me a beautiful card she had made for our uncle who is sick.......... Then she wanted to make brownies, so we did that, and she did almost everything all by herself................. She watched a show on APT, then came and began discussing Greek mythology with me, asking questions and telling me about the show she'd watched. We got on the Internet and looked up some things, read a little about it............. After this, she made our lunch (sandwiches and chips) and set the table. (Not as enthusiastic about doing the dishes... hmmm... guess we need to work on that! :-)............ A little while later, I went in her room to put away some laundry, and she had pulled all her puzzles off the shelf and was busy putting them back together. She had mixed up all the pieces to "make it more fun"! ............ Later, she used her computer that her brother built for her, and played some games and did some writing............... Then later still she built an awesome structure with her zillions of building blocks. The most fun part there?? Knocking it down, of course!!

So - completely by herself and with absolutely no directions from me, she covered: Language Arts, science (chemistry), Math (spatial relationships and computer game), Reading, Art, Composition, History, Domestic Skills, Reasoning, Questioning, Computer Skills.... and probably a lot more that I am missing right now.

The two days I've described were totally different. Yet they each produced all sorts of learning possibilities. If I had imposed my will and made her sit down and "hit the books" that second day, it probably would have been a horrible day, filled with tears (hers) and tantrums (mine). Instead, both days were GREAT. And of course this has played out many, many times over the years, with both K and E. I think it proves that some days need structure, and that many days, we just need to lighten up!!

Have a great day everyone! :-)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Who is your hero?

After we got back from church today, I sat down to check my email. I was reading some of the "top" news stories on AOL, when I noticed a report about the American people and our "heroes". This poll was conducted by a well-known research company, and was done in a random fashion, as most polls are done.

Do you have ANY idea what the majority of individuals - when asked "Who is your hero/who do you admire most?" - said in response? The number one answer was ........... Obama.............. And guess where Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, was on that list?? ............ Number 11. Yes, that is correct................ Now, I am not here to debate whether Obama will be a good President or bad.... whether he is a good man, or a bad one.... I'm not going to get political at all. I just think it is a shame and disgrace that the American people - as represented by a sampling - chose a man who very few people had even heard of a year or two ago as their "hero". Now maybe he will do great things while in office. Maybe not. That remains to be seen. But the fact remains that as of now, he's done relatively little, in part simply because he's only been in office for a month!

Now look at what Jesus has done for us..... How many others have died just for you? Who else can forgive your sins? Who else loves you unconditionally as He does? Now I know that there are many in our country who are either atheists or hold other beliefs. But time and again, in other polls conducted at various times, the MAJORITY of Americans have stated that they believe there is a God, and that Jesus did come to live here on earth and was crucified. That tells me that there are many here in our country are believers, if not Christians. So WHY would there be so few who see Jesus as the ultimate hero?

Friday, February 20, 2009

My peaceful planet... at least for now!

Good Morning! I am sitting here doing my "morning thing" - reading the news, checking the email, touching base with friends - and I am struck by the quiet and serenity which surrounds our home. Both of my children are still asleep - they are like their mom, night owls who love to sleep in! E doesn't have class today and doesn't have to be at the station until this afternoon. K is apparently dreaming sweet dreams because she was giggling in her sleep a few minutes ago.....

It occurs to me (yet again) how wonderful this journey called homeschooling really is... it is SO cold outside and the two people I love more than anything are snug and safe, warm and cozy in their beds. I simply cannot imagine a life that involved dragging my babies out of bed on cold winter mornings and shipping them off to an institution. This life we live is so blessed and I am determined to never let it change, if I can help it.

Years ago - when E was in public school for 3 years and I was teaching - we did the mad dash thing in the mornings. I had to be at work by 7:30 and - as I said earlier - we are definitely NOT morning people!.......... None of us enjoy breakfast (unless we are eating out while traveling! :-) but I couldn't let him leave without eating something, so that was always a struggle........... He has always been "hot-natured" so getting him to wear a coat on cold mornings was almost impossible........... Although he was a very sweet-natured child, most mornings were just disasters as we rushed around trying to do everything we needed to before going to prison for the day...... It was madness!

I contrast the memories of those mornings with a morning like today, and it is like living in a different world, on a different planet. Mornings are (usually :-) calm and quiet. We move around and do our own thing until we are awake enough to face the day. Breakfast may be at 9 or 11, whenever we feel hungry. If K doesn't feel like jumping right into "school", we cruise for awhile. Some days we just kick back and see where the day takes us. Our lives are just so much more peaceful and calm and enjoyable now.

I am sure many people would say "but what about the real world????" (blah, blah, blah :-) Well... this is the same way that Eand I homeschooled, beginning when he was 8, and he is completely able and willing to get up and out the door when he needs to do so! He has NEVER overslept when he had class or needed to be at work early for some reason. In fact, he had a 5 am!!!! radio show for several months, which meant my shower-obsessed son had to get up well before 4! I think it is ridiculous that some people feel that our lifestyle is not preparing them for the "real world". My children live and move in the "real world" each and every day, unlike the children who are imprisoned in institutions, segregated by age and ability, not allowed to pursue areas of interests except on VERY rare occasions, made to conform and follow ridiculous rules and regs which may or may not be in their best interests....

If that is the "real world", I am SO very glad that my family does not live in it! Give me the peace and tranquility of a morning like this any day. I'll continue to dwell on "my planet", thank you very much! It gets crazy sometimes, but I wouldn't change it for anything. :-)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Discoveries made.....

Oh I am SO not doing well at the blogging thing! You would think that as much as I love to talk and write, I would be tearing this up. But no - illness, problems, busyness.... all sorts of reasons/excuses for why I'm not doing one of the things I enjoy most - writing. Have to find some "me time" in here somewhere!

Let me tell you about a recent thing that happened to us. My wonderful aunt and uncle blessed us with a trip to the Tampa/St Pete area recently. We stayed in a picturesque little coastal town called Treasure Island, and it was fantastic. This area is what I think about when I think of "old Florida" - the houses were all shades of pinks, blues, greens and yellows. Absolutely beautiful. The town is on an island, and many people walk or ride bikes. There are sidewalks and lanes specifically for that purpose, and many of the locals utilize them. Since it is on an island, there are beautiful bridges here and there, and lots of boats and sea birds. The main part of the little town is so pretty, with a bell tower in the center of the square. As I said, it is "old Florida" but so beautifully maintained, with new developments carefully blending with the old.

The children and I had such a wonderful, relaxing time. We didn't do anything special - played in the pool and walked on the beach. Found tons of shells - for this Alabama girl, that IS something special! We played miniature golf one night under a beautiful full moon and lots of stars. They had live alligators in certain areas of the course, and K was absolutely thrilled! She could not concentrate on playing because she was so excited about the 'gators!! E takes his golf playing very seriously (even the miniature kind!) and was not so thrilled with her inattention. :-) I guess it sounds boring to some, but it was nice to not have to "go, go, go" on this vacation. We relaxed. We talked. We laughed. We had fun!

We officially "took a break" from schooling for a little while, but of course learned so much while we were there. How can you keep from it?? We found a puffer fish which was dead, but we scooped it up and examined it closely - it's mouth looked like a bird's beak! We saw a clear jelly fish which had washed up, and of course were fascinated by the aforementioned seashells. There were thousands of them - it was incredible! We watched the sun set over the gulf every evening with all of the indescribable colors and lights that go with it. I'm still as thrilled as a child when the last bit of light - plop! - disappears into the water! The corals and pinks and oranges that were displayed were simply breathtaking. It was a magical moment of beauty and quiet reflection for us each evening. I'm not sure how anyone could doubt God's existence when witnessing such an event.

This was the first time any of us had flown, and I will tell you - I was NOT crazy about it! We had uneventful flights down, for which I was very thankful. The flights back were a little rougher, but not too bad. (We flew in on the same day as the plane crash in New York which killed everyone on board.) The safety of it is not really what bothered me. It was more the hassle and the discomfort of the trip that I did not care for. I am tall (5' 10", and on the plump side of chubby - being kind to myself there :-) and my son is 6' 5". We take up lots of space and there just is not "lots" of space on airplanes! But the realization I had on this trip is this: Road trips may be tiring and sometimes frustrating, but the trip to and from our destination is always a very important part of our vacation.

Being in the car together for long periods of time gives us a chance to talk and discuss things that we might see or hear along the way. There is a feeling of "we are in this together" that I enjoy. I also like being able to pack anything I want and not have to worry about airport security. (I like being able to stuff my dirty clothes into a plastic bag and not worry about some overzealous TSA guy going through my unmentionables!! Didn't happen to me, thank you Lord, but I have heard of it happening!) I like being able to carry a cooler stocked with drinks and snacks and enjoying them whenever we want.

I like being able to stop when we want to, and not rely on someone else to tell me when I can and can't eat/go potty/stretch my legs... whatever. As a homeschooler, I am not one to "follow the crowd" of course, and I am apparently just too independent for airline sheeple travel. Now don't get me wrong. I totally understand the need for airport security, and appreciate that measures are being taken, but still felt violated by the shoe removal, x-rays, metal detectors, taking away of my bottled water.... I felt guilty without opportunity to prove my innocence! I don't like that they make you throw away perfectly good bottled water, then charge 3.50 for the same thing inside the terminal. I wonder if they just take all those bottles they confiscate and sell them on "the other side"?? I did NOT like the fact that the sour faced TSA lady sent my purse on through the x-ray machine before I even got my shoes off, and that it sat unattended for several minutes!! You ladies all know how we are about our purses!! Our tickets, cash, credit cards, cell phone - a huge part of my life was in that purse, and she sent it on like it was nothing. I was SO not happy with her, but you feel that you can't voice your feelings because they will take you to that "little room" where terrible things probably happen!! :-} I was proud of myself for not telling her exactly what I thought - great self control on my part. Praying "Lord please keep me from slapping this mealy-mouthed person into next week!!" lol........

So, unless it is absolutely necessary, I don't see myself flying again any time soon. I'll take the road trips any day - me and the kids on the open road, enjoying each other, quarreling a little (OK - sometimes a lot :-), asking the Good Lord to keep us safe........ To me, THAT is a vacation! Besides, I need to get my money's worth out of that travel dvd player............... Have a great day! :-)